Crying out for ‘the homily of the future’

Archbishop of Munich questions preachers’ lack of variety, wants them to be more inclusive of ‘gifted’ laity

By Anne-Bénédicte Hoffner, La Croix, July 26, 2019

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the President of the German Bishops’ Conference, admits he has been “a little disappointed” by some of the homilies in his diocese. He is calling for the preaching of lay people who are formed and have a “gift.”

“Don’t we want to ask the one with a gift to speak?” he asked, explicitly targeting lay people with this talent and duly trained. “Don’t we want to ask the one with a gift to speak?” he stressed.

The question was asked by Cardinal Marx, Archbishop of Munich, at a meeting of readers in his diocese Saturday, July 20.According to the German Church’s information website, published by Vatican News in German, Cardinal Marx began by saying that he was “a little disappointed” by some of the homilies he had heard in the parishes of his diocese, due to a lack of explanatory work on the texts.”

Their true meaning is not in question,” he said.

To help preachers, he first promised that the website of the Diocese of Munich would publish each week “a theological introduction to the Bible texts of the coming Sunday.”

But the president of the powerful German Bishops’ Conference also expressed his wish for “a greater variety of homilies.””What is the homily of the future? “For example, let us be open to the possibility of hearing a person’s “testimony.”

Finally, he considered the possibility of preaching by lay people with this talent and duly trained.

Since “the gifts are different,” why “don’t we want to ask the one with the talent to speak?” he said.

The Second Vatican Council wanted to strengthen the place of the laity in celebrations to mark the participation of all the baptized in the liturgy.

Pope Paul VI’s motu proprio Ministeria quædam, in 1972, entrusted ministries to lay people and, to this end, transformed two of the former “minor orders” – the lectorate and the acolytate (altar service) – into “established ministries.”

This status differentiates them from ordained ministries (diaconate, presbyterate and episcopate). Moreover, the motu proprio makes it clear that “to be instituted as a reader, in accordance with the venerable tradition of the Church, is reserved for men.”

Prohibition from the 13th century onwards

Since the 13th century – and the prohibition by Pope Gregory IX (1228) of preaching by the laity – only consecrated ministers were permitted to preach in the Catholic Church. But that was not the case until then.”

In the 10th-12th centuries, and particularly in the context of the Gregorian Reformation, it is attested that the officium praedicandi was practiced in a fruitful way, especially within those lay evangelical movements that developed at the beginning of the second Christian millennium,” recalled Enzo Bianchi, prior of the monastic community of Bose, in an article published in L’Osservatore Romano in March 2016.

Better train readers

To the readers of his diocese, Cardinal Marx also recommended that their formation be deepened.

“Sharing the word of God is one of the most important things we do in the Church,” he recalled.

Training can help them acquire specific skills, such as using the microphone or acquiring the right tone.

Readers should also prepare the texts to be read. Before Mass, they should read them “aloud” and, if possible, “know also the other texts of the day.”

Cardinal Marx expressed his opposition, however, to the use of electronic tablets in a liturgical context.

“He acknowledged that he was reading the breviary, that is, the prayer of the hours, only on a tablet. But, in the liturgy, he believes that the use of printed books should be preserved,” writes the Swiss Catholic website kath.ch.

Article first appeared at:https://international.la-croix.com/news/crying-out-for-the-homily-of-the-future/10599?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=e-mail&utm_content=29-07-2019&utm_campaign=newsletter_crx_lci&PMID=d8ec8b77e0cf940a082e735dc179ee5f